How to research users easily to create compelling communications.

For writing content to your audience, you need to research your audience first. 

Is there a recipe for creating brand personas for blogs and other or useful content on websites? 

You bet there is and it is given below.

One way to understand your customer is to ask the brand owner about the pains and problems that customers in the brand category face. 

But this may not necessarily work all the time. Few business owners understand customer insights as much as they should. You might come a cropper when you ask tough questions to owners.

The other method would be to undertake a primary research of the audience. 

For this you can use  either online or offline surveys as explained below.

Primary Customer Survey Methods

Prepare the survey questions and then implement the survey through any of the following methods. 

Learn how to structure your survey questions here.

In many cases you may already have the addresses of past customers with you. 

You could use this to interview, or survey customers. 

In other cases, you may be a startup wanting to know more about the customers in the industry. You may not have existing customers. 

Here too you can use primary research understand customers.

  1. Use the telephone to survey the audience and physically administer the questions 
  2. Hire a market survey company to administer the survey using qualitative or quantitiative techniques
  3. Host the survey questionnaire online, advertise it on FB, and incentivise the users to give you the feedback that you require
    [There are a number of online tools available for research here]
  4. Conduct a secondary research using sources on the web. 

What we are going to dwell on is on secondary research for gathering ideas to create a brand persona

This can be done quickly and effectively.

Secondary customer  research is particularly useful in a number of situations.

  1. You are pitching for a new account and need to present strategy which flows from an accurate understanding of the competition and competitive data
  2. You need to create strategies and draw out plans for an existing client based on competitive activity

How to search for your competition on Google.

For eg say, you want to know the real competition of Shillim Retreat & Spa, or any client that you work with.

You put the brand name into Google and this is what you’ll see.

Now, focus on the right side of the screen. At the bottom of the panel, Google gives you hints of what people who search for Shillim also search for. Examples are below. Click on the View 15+ more.

 

Once you click, you will see a screen with 15 resorts similar to Shillim. Click on the first one, The Machan, opens up on the right, and scroll down to see more examples of what customers search for.

Repeat this process for your nearest competition. You will get a list of websites that customers think are your competition. 

Forget what you think it is, or should be:-)

Look for customer reviews sites in your brand category to glean information on pain, problems of customers.

The reviews’ sites offer a good example of what people like about a product, or service. You use this to gain insights.

Review sites help us understand a few things

  1. Pains, problems, needs of customers
  2. The exact vocabulary used by customers to describe their pain problem, or even positive experiences with products

Where to look for customer reviews

Here are a few place to get you started.

  1. Yelp: For all small businesses, USA focussed
  2. Trip Advisor: For Hotels, Resorts, Restaurants in India
  3. Mouthshut.com: For many Indian products and services
  4. Trust Pilot: For shoppers in USA, Europe
  5. Amazon.com for books covering specific industries - look at book reviews catering to specific industries. If there is a large volume of reviews, this would be a good place to check what customers are looking for, saying about specific industries. Filter the results by reviews.

Resort books on Amazon filtered by reviews shows this.

You may not always get something you need here, but it’s worth a shot.

A check on reviews for Shillim on Google shows this.

Look also for Shillim Blogs….

…and Shillim Discussions on Google for more ideas.

How to understand the User & Competitor Demographics

SimilarWeb is one the better tools for Audience and Competitor Analysis. The caveat is it’s expensive, entry is restricted, and it costs thousands of dollars in annual fees.

Other options for competitor analysis are Alexa and Google Analytics.

  1. Look at Google Analytics under Audience Profiles if you have access to that
  2. Get your domain/ competitor domain details analysed on SimilarWeb for demographic information
  3. Use Alexa, or Quantcast to find out the domain analytics and demographic information

Once you piecie together all this information from reviews, discussion, books, blogs, and demographic sources, you will have the details of the persona who you are writing for. 

You also get a good understanding of the precise pains of the customer.

How do you go about researching your users?

Are there easier ways than this that you use for secondary research? 

Leave your feedback, below.

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